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Buckwheat Crêpes with Orange Butter and Sugar-Seared Orange Slices

The deep earth of buckwheat, the ping of orange zest in melted butter, and the pleasing grit of plain sugar make these crêpes utterly irresistible.

6 to 8 dessert portions


About 15 minutes to make the batter, plus at least 3 hours or up to 36 hours to rest it (cooking the crêpes themselves goes very quickly once you have the hang of it); about 20 minutes to prepare the garnishes


A good crêpe manifests a brilliant tension between crisp and custardy in the space of about two millimeters. Quite a feat. In the case of buckwheat, this balance becomes all the more delicate because buckwheat, while producing a distinctive flavor, does not a strong flour make. Overcrowd a buckwheat formula with wheat flour and you have achieved structure while sacrificing taste. Zero-sum game. We allow a small percentage of French Mediterranean bread flour do the heavy lifting while our rustic aromatic buckwheat flour runs off with the taste. This is a beautiful recipe, all haunting buckwheat and bright orange in a very delicate textural arrangement. We roll the crêpes like carpets to capture layers of crisp, creamy, earthy, and bright. They are especially fun to eat with your fingers. 

Baking Notes

If the pan isn’t hot enough when the batter is poured in, you’re going to end up with crêpes that look wan and flabby like everybody else’s. This recipe has ingredient proportions that are exactly fitted for the crisp/creamy interplay—if the pan is properly seasoned and hot.

equipment mise en place

To make the crêpes, you will need a digital scale, a fine-mesh sieve, a small heavy-bottomed saucepan, a wooden spoon, a food processor or a stand mixer fitted with the flat-beater attachment, a rubber spatula, a 1-quart liquid measuring cup or similarly sized vessel, a well-seasoned 10-inch skillet or crêpe pan, and a metal icing spatula.

To make the garnishes, you will need a rasp-style grater, a small saucepan, a small fine-mesh sieve, a small bowl, a large plate, waxed or parchment paper, paper towels, a large well-seasoned cast-iron skillet or a heavy-bottomed nonstick skillet, a shallow dish, and a small metal spatula.

  • for the crêpe batter:

  • for cooking the crêpes:

    • 1.5
      ounces (3 tablespoons) unsalted European-style butter
  • for the garnishes:

    • 2
      large navel oranges, washed
    • 2.5
      ounces (5 tablespoons) unsalted European-style butter
    • 2.3
      ounces (⅓ cup) sugar, plus additional for sprinkling
    • Grand Marnier, for sprinkling (optional)

    Make the crêpe batter: Melt the butter in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over low heat, stirring with a wooden spoon to scrape the browning milk solids back into the butter, until the butter is the color of a hazelnut, 3 to 5 minutes. Pour enough of the milk into the butter to lower the temperature from hot to just warm (fig. 1.1) and stir well. Set the mixture aside.


    If using a food processor: Place the flours, sugar, and salt in the food processor workbowl and pulse to combine. With the machine running, pour in the eggs and process until the mixture is smooth, about 10 seconds (fig. 2.1). With machine running, pour in the browned butter–milk mixture, followed by the remaining milk, pausing once to scrape down the sides of the bowl. Pour the batter into a 1-quart liquid measuring cup (fig. 2.2) or similarly sized vessel. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or for up to 36.

    If using a stand mixer: Place the flours, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitter with the flat-beater attachment and mix on low speed to combine. With the machine running on medium-low speed, add the eggs and beat until the mixture is evenly moist and looks sticky and sinewy, about 20 seconds. Increase the heat to medium-high and continue to beat for 10 seconds more. Reduce the heat to low and add the browned butter–milk mixture in a slow, steady stream, and then add the remaining milk, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary. Detach the bowl from the mixer and whisk, scraping along the bottom of the bowl, to mix in any heavier ingredients that may be stuck. Pour the batter into a 1-quart glass measuring cup or similarly sized vessel. Cover and refrigerate for at least 3 hours or for up to 36.


    Clarify the butter for cooking the crêpes: Melt the butter in a small saucepan over low heat. Remove the pan from the heat, tilt it gently, and, using a spoon, skim off and discard the foam from the surface. Spoon the clear yellow butterfat into a small bowl; discard the water and milk solids left in the pan. Set the clarified butter aside.


    Prepare the garnishes: Using a rasp-style grater, grate the zest from one orange; you should have about 1 tablespoon. Melt the butter in a small saucepan over medium-low heat. Remove the pan from the heat and immediately stir in the orange zest. Allow the flavors to infuse and the butter to cool for 10 minutes. Set a small fine-mesh sieve over a small bowl and strain the butter, pressing down on the zest to extract as much butter as possible. Discard the zest. Set the butter aside in a warm spot. 


    Line a large plate with waxed or parchment paper. Cut the second navel orange into quarters from pole-to-pole, and then cut each quadrant crosswise into ¼-inch slices; discard the end pieces. Place the slices between layers of paper towels to absorb excess juice (fig. 5.1). Heat a large well-seasoned cast-iron or heavy-bottomed nonstick skillet over medium heat for 5 minutes. Pour the sugar into a shallow dish. Dip the orange slices one at a time into the sugar, coating both sides, and then arrange them in the hot pan in a single layer. Cook until the sugar has caramelized and colored the orange slices tawny (fig. 5.2), 5 to 10 minutes (depending on how hot your stove runs); use a small metal spatula to turn the slices only once halfway through. Transfer them to the prepared plate when they are done.


    Cook and serve the crêpes: Heat a well-seasoned 10-inch skillet or crêpe pan over medium-high heat for 5 minutes. Add ½ teaspoon of the clarified butter to the skillet (it should smoke) and immediately swirl the skillet to coat the surface with butter. Drop in teaspoon or so of batter to test the heat. If the heat is correct, the skillet will sizzle appreciatively and the bottom of the crêpe will show lacy brown blisters when lifted with the tip of a metal spatula; if it is not, the bottom will be smooth, like a pancake. When the temperature is correct, stir the batter to recombine (some of the black buckwheat hulls settle at the bottom), pour ¼ cup across the half of the skillet opposite the handle (fig. 6.1), lift the skillet, and begin tilting it back and forth to coat the entire surface with a thin, even layer of batter. The skillet should be hot enough to grip the batter as it travels across the surface and issue the sound of distant, but enthusiastic, applause. Cook the crêpe until lacy brown on the bottom, about 1 minute (or less, depending on your burner and pan), use an icing spatula to carefully flip it (fig. 6.2), and cook on the second side until nicely browned, 30 to 45 seconds. When finished (fig.6.3), transfer the crêpe to a plate, gently flipping it lacy side down, and roll it up like a carpet. Brush it with orange butter, sprinkle with 1 teaspoon sugar, add a couple of sugar-seared orange slices, and, if you like, sprinkle with a few drops of Grand Marnier. Serve immediately. Cook and serve additional crêpes in the same way, lightly coating the skillet with clarified butter before pouring in the batter.

    1. 1.1
    1. 2.1
    2. 2.2
    1. 5.1
    2. 5.2
    1. 6.1
    2. 6.2
    3. 6.3